If you “feel” like jobs are increasing, but there hasn’t been a surge in the applicant pool, your “feelings” may be correct--and confirmed with data.
The Employment Trends Index suggests the job market will continue to increase, which will continue to affect the ability to recruit and retain quality, qualified employees. And while some of the employees that have been out of the market due to unemployment are now returning as additional unemployment benefits are wrapping up, the competition and climb continues, especially in industries that have been some of the most affected by the pandemic and are unable to alleviate some of the concerns job seekers have with returning to work. Like the hospitality industry, for example, cannot provide employees with remote options, etc.
So what can you do, as an employer, to stay competitive, ease employee concerns, and ultimately, continue to attract the talent your organization requires to function. My suggestion is: get creative, and do what you can do.
For our business, that means not standardizing a policy around Covid-19, being exposed to the virus, or requiring employees to be in office or work remotely--we are choosing to remain flexible with employees, depending on the situation. Of course, we don’t want our policies to impede our business’s ability to keep moving forward if we do have to weather a storm at some point, but it also comes from a place of empathy. As a parent, attempting to send my child to school and not knowing what the school year holds--it seems like schools are still trying to figure out what the school year will look like!--I know my schedule may require flexibility at some point that allows me to work remotely. But not everyone is in that same position; thus, we are making decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Maybe it makes more sense to create a rigid policy as we embrace the unknowns of the fall and winter. Maybe your organization or industry doesn’t allow for remote work, and there’s not much you can do to ease individuals concerned with working with the public; you may have to consider allowing flexible schedules to allow your parent employees to take care of their children's’ remote learning needs. Or perhaps you can temporarily offer parents a childcare stipend, to help get through challenging times should we face them again, if that’s a price you can pay to retain your typically-dependable employees. All in all, it’s time to get creative and do what we can as employers to retain the talent we do have, and pair it with strategies such as talent branding to attract new talent. Because the challenging reality is if we don’t do what we can do, we may be finding ourselves facing an uphill battle for the foreseeable future.